Despite not being in the same franchise, Elden Ring is still very much a FromSoftware Souls-style experience. At this point, the studio's reputation, game design choices, narratives, and gameplay mechanics are intrinsically tied to every project it announces. In some ways, Elden Ring is the most different from its recent catalog of titles, but in other ways, it is very familiar. Some things like the pace of combat, healing system, and fog walls hiding incredibly tough, monstrous bosses all return, while the open world adds a ton of new elements. One thing that has always been a point of pain, confusion, and stress has been how each game handles upgrading your armaments.
You will only get so far in Elden Ring with a default weapon. That is unless you're a Souls pro, that is. For us mortals, upgrading our weapons to deal more damage will be a key component in keeping up with the game's tougher challenges. While not nearly as obtuse or unforgiving as older titles, there is still plenty to learn about how the upgrading process works. Before you cash in your hard-earned, and somewhat limited, materials to the smith, we'll go over everything there is to know about how to upgrade weapons in Elden Ring.
Like every Souls game, you can't just shove materials into your weapons wherever and whenever you feel like it and expect anything to happen. You will need the help of an experienced smith to improve your gear or a special smithing table. The man (if you can even call him that) that you will want to find is Blacksmith Hewg.
Step 1: To locate Blacksmith Hewg you need to reach the Roundtable Hold. This is a separate location from the main landmass of Elden Ring. After meeting Melina, she will offer to guide you there when you visit a Site of Grace.
Step 2: Once you can travel to the Roundtable Hold, head right of the main room and follow the familiar clanking sounds to locate Hewg, the prisoner and blacksmith.
Step 3: You can also locate smithing tables around the world to upgrade your weapons yourself, but you can't fully upgrade them as Hewg can.
Now that you have the man who can smith for you, you can start upgrading your gear. To do this you will need several things: the first being a weapon you want to upgrade. At low levels of upgrades, you won't have to worry about wasting currency or resources on weapons you will ditch later on, but don't spend too many valuables on early game weapons that will be outpaced by much better ones you find later in the game.
Next is materials. Depending on how you want to upgrade your weapon, you will need different materials, which can either be Ashes of War or Smithing Stone Shards.
Finally, you need Runes to pay for Hewg's services. If you have all the required materials, you can just select the weapon you want to upgrade, see what will be improved, how much it costs, and confirm your choice.
Again returning from past Souls games are different upgrade paths that alter different aspects of your weapon beyond raw damage. There still exists a standard upgrade path, going from +1 to +10, but offers no additional benefits. Other upgrade paths include:
- Keen upgrades — these improve your dexterity scaling while decreasing strength and base damage. It can be applied to swords, katanas, greatswords, double-edged swords, spears, and great spears.
- Quality upgrades — this path makes strength and dexterity scaling the same while reducing base damage. You can apply it to swords, katanas, greatswords, curved swords, double-edged swords, spears, great spears, hammers, and axes.
- Lighting upgrades — this adds additional lightning damage to your weapon but cuts base damage and strength scaling. It is an option for swords, katanas, greatswords, curved swords, double-edged swords, spears, great spears, hammers, and axes.
- Magic upgrades — works exactly like lightning, only adds magic damage and intelligence scaling while cutting damage and both strength and dexterity scaling. You can use this on swords, katanas, greatswords, curved swords, double-edged swords, spears, great spears, hammers, and axes.
- Sacred upgrades — applies holy damage to your weapon, reduces physical damage and strength scaling. This is only available for small and regular shields.
If you want to upgrade your weapon in any way besides the standard, you will need to use Ashes of War. Be warned, though, that while you can apply a different Ash of War to a weapon, the original skill that weapon came with will be lost if you do so. Ashes of War also grant the weapon they're attached to an extra skill you can use by hitting L2 for the cost of some FP, but can be swapped with new compatible Ashes of War later on too.
Ashes of War come in many different types, can be found in the world, dropped by enemies and bosses, sold by merchants, and even given by talking to NPCs, so explore and gather as many as you can.
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